Thursday, July 27, 2006

Miami: Airship Port of the World


Imagine departing the Port of Miami in a huge airship and then floating a few hundred feet over the Gulfstream as you follow the coastline down to Key West. The water is so clear you can see reefs outlined just below the surface, dolphins, and sharks. You can yell a friendly hello down to fishermen in their boats as the airship's giant shadow engulfs them. It's Friday and you caught the 5pm flight to Key West to catch the sunset at the Mallory Docks. In less than two hours, you have been transported from the hustle and bustle of Miami to the laid back charm of Key West thanks to the airship's top speed of nearly 175 mph. That's right, this isn't your daddy's blimp anymore! After a few drinks and dinner at one of your favorite hangouts, you board the airship with 200 other passengers and depart for Havana. Castro is dead and buried and the island is feeling free again. In fact, you're thinking this is how it must have been before he sold his soul to the Russkies.

Ah, but if it hadn't been for the Evil Empire, you wouldn't be sipping cocktails while standing along the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the moonlit sea. Aeros, the company that makes these wonderful flying machines they call Aeroscraft, began in 1988 in Russia. The designs are based on more than 20-years of research in lighter-than-air technologies developed by the former Soviet Union Aviation Design Bureau. In 1993 the company moved to California. These skycruisers use a combination of helium and the lifting characteristics of the body's shape to make them fly. You can read more about them at : http://www.aerosml.com/aeroscraft.asp

It disappoints me that the company didn't settle in Miami. I'm sure the county would have worked out some kind of deal with Aeros to set up a manufacturing facility at Opa Locka Airport-- had they known about them in the first place. To me it seems like another lost opportunity and it makes me wonder what does the Beacon Council do? I know it's supposed to attract businesses to Dade County but despite their large staff and bloated salaries, there isn't much to show for our taxpayer's dollars.

Will we ever see regularly scheduled Aeroscraft flights out of the Port of Miami for Key West and Havana-- and even a down-low "EcoRun" over the Everglades to Tampa? Who knows? Carnival could float this endeavor. So could Virgin's Sir Richard Branson who has a home here and is looking for a city to launch people into space on regularly scheduled flights through Virgin Galactic (scroll down to see my previous blog on that). All it takes is one or more visionaries with deep pockets or enough financial smarts to leverage other people's monies. That's my opinion. What's yours?

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